Summary: Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. (1 Corinthians 3.18)

September 27, 2012

Commentary on First Corinthians

By: Tom Lowe

Lesson 2.7.A: The Worldly Wise Man and Wisdom

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3.18-23

1 Cor 3:18-23 (KJV)

18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.


Now the apostle prescribes humility, and a modest opinion of themselves, for the remedy of the indiscretions taking place in the church of Corinth; the rise of factions and the competition and disputes between these factions.


18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

Let no man deceive himself.

The apostle beginning here and continuing to the end of this chapter makes a practical application of the truths which he had previously stated, and to urge them not to think too highly of themselves, and to make an effort to curb the arguments and strife into which they had fallen. They had become puffed up with a vain conceit of their own wisdom, and this had been the real cause of all the evils which they had experienced. Grotius translates the verse this way: "See that you do not attribute too much to your wisdom and learning, by resting on it, and thus deceive your own selves." "All human philosophy," says Grotius, "that is repugnant to the gospel is but vain deceit." There were probably many among them who would despise this admonition simply because it came from Paul, but he cautions them to take care that they do not deceive themselves.

Christian friend, do not be led away from the truth and simplicity of the Gospel by pretenders who promote science and philosophy, by eloquence of speech, by a show of deep learning, or a flourish of words, by rabbis, orators, or philosophers; and reject all men who possess vain notions of serving God and religion, and of doing the churches good by their carnal and worldly wisdom, and with false hopes of escaping the vengeance of God for sowing the seeds of error, heresy, and discord among his people. Note, We are in great danger of deceiving ourselves when we have too high an opinion of human wisdom and arts. Plain and pure Christianity is likely to be despised by those who can adapt their doctrines to the corrupt taste of their hearers, and enflame them with their rhetoric, or support them with a show of deep and strong reasoning.

We are taught here:

1. That there exists the danger of self-deception—a danger that assails all of us, when the issue is religion.

2. That false philosophy is the most fruitful source of self-deception in the business of religion. That was true of the Corinthians; and that is the way it has been ever since.

If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world,

This seems to refer to some individual in the Church of Corinth, who had caused trouble that led to disputes and disunity; probably Diotrephes, who is mentioned in 3 John 1.9: “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not,” or someone with a similar attitude, who wanted to have the pre-eminence, and thought he was wiser than everyone else. Every Christian Church has one or more of these.

It may be that Paul is being a little sarcastic here. Of course the Corinthians did consider themselves wise in their time! That was one of their problems, they loved worldly wisdom.

“If any man among you” probably refers to teachers, whatever their position may be, and whatever confidence they may have in their own abilities; or it could refer to any private member of the church.

“Seemeth to be wise” or thinks himself wise; or is thought to be, is esteemed as such, or has the reputation of being wise. The word "seems" implies this idea—if anyone seems, or is supposed to be a man of wisdom; if this is his reputation; and if he seeks to maintain this reputation among people.

“In this world” means in this "age," or "world." There is considerable variety in the interpretation of this passage among Bible scholars. It may be taken either with the words which precede it or with the words which follow it. Origen, Cyprian, Beza, Grotius, Hammond, and Locke adopt the latter method, and would say it this way: "If any man among you thinks himself to be wise, let him not hesitate to be a fool in the opinion of this age in order that he may be truly wise." But the interpretation conveyed in our translation, is probably the correct one. "If any man has the reputation of wisdom among the people of this generation, and prides himself on it," etc. If he is esteemed wise in the sense in which the people of this world are; as a philosopher, a man of science, learning, etc. What is one to do if he is thought to be wise in worldly wisdom; or desires to be thought of as such; or would be a truly wise man in this world according to a human measure of wisdom: The last part of this verse says he is to become a fool, so that he may become wise. The way to true wisdom is to sink our opinion of our own wisdom to a lower level, and be willing to be taught by God.

let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

Let him rid himself of his worldly wisdom (all humanism; man centered philosophy), and be contented to be called a fool, and regarded as one, so that he may become wise unto salvation, by renouncing his own wisdom, and seeking that which comes from God. But probably the apostle refers to that person who, pretending to possess great wisdom and lots of information, taught doctrines contrary to the Gospel; and he attempted to justify and support his own opinions with arguments which he thought were convincing and indisputable. This man brought his worldly wisdom to bear against the doctrines of Christ; and probably much of what Paul found reprehensible in the Corinthian Church originated with such teaching.

Let him become a fool

1. Let him be willing to be regarded as a fool. If one is not willing to be considered a fool by those who value only human wisdom, they will never be able to become truly wise. “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way” (Psalms 25:9; KJV).

2. Let him sincerely embrace this Gospel, which will inevitably expose him to the charge of being a fool.

3. Let all his earthly wisdom be regarded in his own eyes as worthless and foolishness as far as the great matters of salvation is concerned.

That he may be wise—That he may have true wisdom; that which comes from God. It is implied here:

1. That the wisdom of this world will not make a man truly wise.

2. That a "reputation" for wisdom may contribute nothing to a man's true wisdom, but may stand in the way of it.

3. That before a man can embrace the Gospel, it is necessary for him to be willing to cast off all dependence on his own wisdom, and come with the nature of a child to the Savior.

4. That to do this will expose him to the accusation of fool, and the ridicule of those who are wise in their own conceit.

5. That true wisdom is found only in that science which teaches people to live for God, and to be prepared for death and for heaven—and that science is found only in the Gospel.

19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

Paul was a Jew, but he lived in a world that was dominated by Rome; therefore, he saw the world as consisting of Jews and Gentiles; but all the wisdom they possessed was nothing more than foolishness in the eyes of God. It is worthless to him; it is despised and neglected by him; he makes it foolish, destroys it; he lays it aside, because it is unable to make men wise unto salvation, and so, by the foolishness of preaching He saves them that believe; he passes over the wise and prudent, and hides the things of the Gospel from them; so, that, with all their learning and wisdom, they cannot comprehend the mysteries of grace, while he reveals them unto babes, and chooses the foolish things of this world to spread the knowledge of himself, his Son, his Gospel, and the truths it contains; and all of it confuses the wise and learned.

The wisdom of this world is that which is esteemed to be wisdom by the men of this world on the subject of religion; whether it is the mysterious wisdom of the rabbis, or the intellectual speculations of the Grecian philosophers, it is foolishness to God. Foolishness is expressed in spending time, strength, and effort for no purpose, so that those who do so are termed fools, particularly those who acquire no saving knowledge by their speculations. And will you agree with me that this the case with the major part of all that is called philosophy, even in the present day? Has one soul been saved through it? Are our most eminent philosophers either pious or helpful men? Are any of them meek, gentle, and humble! Who among them directs his researches to improve the moral condition of his fellowman? Pride, insolence, self-conceit, and complacency, with a general forgetfulness of God, contempt for his word, and a lack of concern for the poor, are their general characteristics. But we should not have the opinion that true wisdom is foolishness with God. It does not mean that science, and law, astronomy, and medicine, and chemistry, are regarded by him as silliness, and as worthless for the attention of men. God is the Friend of truth, on all subjects; and he requires us to become acquainted with his works, and commends those who study them: “For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands” (Psalms 92:4; KJV); also “The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein” (Psalms 111:2; KJV). But the apostle refers here to that which was recognized to be wisdom among the ancients, and in which they to a large extent prided themselves—their vain, self-confident, and false opinions on the subject of religion; and especially those opinions that were opposed to the simple but sublime truths of revelation.

Is foolishness with God. Is considered by him to be foolish.

with God means in the judgment of God.

"For it is written,"

The apostle quotes Job 5.13 in the next clause; he could have stated this verse like this: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written in Job 5.13, ‘He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.’”

He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

This quotation from Job 5:13, powerfully shows what the wisdom of this world is: it is a sort of craft, a subtle trade, which they carry out in order to wrong others and benefit themselves; and they normally have too much cunning to be caught by men; but God often overthrows them with their own plans. Paganism brought about persecution against the Church of Christ, for the purpose of destroying it; but this became the very means of quickly spreading Christianity over the earth, and of destroying the whole pagan system. Thus the wise were overthrown by their own craftiness. Another commentator put it this way: “He taketh the wise in their own craftiness (Job. 5:13 ), he catches them in their own nets, and entangles them in their own snares: he turns their most studies, plausible, and promising schemes against themselves, and ruins them by their own contrivance.”

Note: With the exception of the reference in James 5:11 to the "proverbial patience" of Job, this is the only allusion to Job, or to the book of Job in the New Testament.

20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

And again,

“The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain” is a quotation from Psalms 94:11, almost word for word: “The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.” The teaching is not merely that “Human thought is useless in the sense of not producing anything of spiritual value that redeems man from sin,” but there is also the knowledge that it is ineffective in devising any worthwhile solutions for the secular, political, economic and social problems which plague the entire world. The Jewish Scholars would quote scripture when a matter was not clear, and the quote would provide additional confirmation and another illustration of the point to be made. So here the apostle quotes David to make his point, “that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”

The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

In the Psalms (94.11) we read, "the Lord knoweth the thoughts of men, that they are vanity"; which the apostle not only quotes, but explains and teaches. By “the wise” is meant men of wisdom and knowledge, men with the greatest capacity for understanding and expression, whose thoughts, reasoning, schemes, and devices, the omniscient God not only knows, but makes known, and shows them, sooner or later, to be vain and useless, and most definitely, vanity itself; and in spite of all their scheming and maneuvers, His words must stand, His Gospel must be maintained, His truths must prevail, and His precepts must continue, and his work go on. What is said here about the vanity of human knowledge is true of every kind of wisdom that does not lead immediately to God himself. There, in Psalm 94.11, it is “of men”; here it is "of the wise." Paul by inspiration states the class of men whose "thoughts" (or rather, "reasoning," agrees with the Greek and the sense of the context) the Spirit designated in the Psalm, "vanity," namely, the "proud"—“ Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud” (Psalms 94:2; KJV)—and worldly-wise, whom God in Psalms 94:8 calls "fools,"--“Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?” (Psalms 94:8; KJV); though they "boast themselves" of their wisdom in promoting their interests—“How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?” (Psalms 94:4; KJV).

The Lord knoweth. God has a perfect knowledge of the thoughts of the wisest men, because He searches the heart. The specific thing which it says here that he knows, is, that the thoughts of man are vain. They have this trait; and this is what the psalmist says that God sees. The assertion connects the omniscience of God with what God sees of the nature of the thoughts of the wise. They are always full of schemes and plans for their own earthly good; and God knows that all this is vain, empty, and unsatisfactory; and will not do them any good when they must stand before the Great Judge on that Day.

Note: God knows the deepest thoughts of the wisest men, their most secret plans and purposes: nothing is hidden from him, but “all things are naked and bare” before him (Heb. 4:13); and He knows they are only vanity. The thoughts of the wisest men in the world have a great mixture of vanity, of weakness and absurdity, in them; and before God saved them their wisest and best thoughts were incredibly vain, compared with their thoughts about things. And shouldn’t all this teach us that we out to be humble, and highly esteem the wisdom of God; be thankful for his sacred scriptures, and willing to be taught by God; and not be led astray by bogus displays of human wisdom and skill, from the simplicity of Christ’s teaching, or a regard for His heavenly doctrine? Note: He who aspires to be wise must learn about God, and not set up his own wisdom in competition with God’s.

The thoughts of the wise. Their plans, purposes, goals.

That they are vain. That they lack real wisdom; they are foolish; they will not be able to accomplish what they expect to accomplish, and they will never have that wisdom which they now suppose they possess. God has evaluated the wisdom of this world, and He considers it foolishness, craftiness, and futile. Will we agree with God's evaluation, or not?

21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

Therefore let no man glory in men.

Paul now returns to a subject he began earlier in the chapter; “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?”(1 Cor 3:4; KJV). He warns the believers at Corinth, that from now on they should not esteem as lords those whom God has appointed to be ministers and not lords of their salvation. This is done by those that depend upon men. The apostle is making a point about ministers, who are only men; that even the best of them should not be glorified; but he especially warns the Corinthians against the false teachers of his day, whose wisdom, learning, and eloquence, greatly impressed the Corinthians—they boasted of them; and they were so ensnared by them, that they idolized them, called them their masters, pinned their faith on their sleeve, gave themselves to them and placed themselves under their authority, influence, and direction. So Paul has a warning for them—Let no one glory in men: How prone we are to glory in men! We are more excited about being with the influential and famous of this world than about being with God. We value the gifts and honors of men more than the gifts and honors God gives. How we need to hear, let no one glory in men! Paul condemns them for venerating mere men which were so far from being right, that they should not adore and elevate even the best of ministers, or exalt anyone above another; and that applies to Paul, Apollos, and Cephas. No one should suppose that he has any cause of delight in anything but God.

I must admit that I have been guilty of placing ministers on a pedestal, and usually becoming good friends with them, but I am sorry to say that they have always let me down. Now I accept that they are just like me, with the same weaknesses I have, and friends, if you ever try to put me on a pedestal, you will sooner or later be disappointed. Therefore let no man glory in men; in preachers like Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas. Above all, they should not form parties around human leaders.

for all things are yours;

The believer who glorifies, exalts, or adores another man is lowering himself from his high position as heir of all things. All men (including your teachers) belong to Christ, and therefore to you, by your union with Him; He makes them and all things work together for your good: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28; KJV). You are not for the benefit of them, but they are for your benefit: “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake” (2 Cor 4:5; KJV); “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God” (2 Cor 4:15; KJV). Ministers belong to you, not you to them. The little word “all” indicates that the ministers belonged to all of the Corinthians; the special gifts God had given to them were all for their use and service, and for their benefit and advantage. Therefore, it was wrong to compare ministers, to prefer one over the others, or to form factions endorsing a specific minister, when he belonged to them all; and it is wrong to reject ministers, when every believer has a right to every minister. All preachers are for your use and service, and are ordained to prepare you for eternal glory. To say I am of Paul or I am of Apollos is to have a view that is too narrow, too constricted. Both Paul and Apollos belong to you; the whole universe is yours in Christ. Why, even death is "ours"; it is our servant, not our master! Death to us may be like the angel who touched Peter in Acts 12, causing his chains to fall off, and leading him through a gate that opens by itself, into real freedom.

The man who belongs to Christ is a child of God, and his Father will do anything for him. Nothing of the Father’s resources will be begrudged to the believer: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32; KJV). He that has God has everything that can make him happy and glorious: all are his. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours. And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.

22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas,

These three are named, because the disputes within the Corinthian Church were mainly over them; but what is said about them is true of everyone, and particularly of all the ministers of Christ; that they belong to the church. The gifts which Christ bestowed on them, are not their own, but the church's, and are given to them, not so much for their own use, as they are for the good and benefit of others. They are made competent ministers of the New Testament, not through their own efforts (their education and study), or with the assistance of another man (professors, teachers, experienced pastors), but by God. God gives them as blessings to his churches, and equips them to be pastors and teachers by feeding them with knowledge, and with understanding. They are qualified by the Spirit of God for the service of the saints, and are set aside by Him for that purpose, and are established as overseers of the flock by his direction; they are placed as stewards of the mysteries and manifold grace of God, to dispense them with wisdom and faithfulness to all in his family, and are the servants of the churches for Jesus' sake, and therefore they are not to be idolized or exalted; although they are due respect if they are faithful servants.

Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, may be an enumeration of some of the "all things" of the preceding verse; the teachers, in whom they gloried: “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ” (1 Cor 1:12; KJV). Conspicuous by its absence is the so-called "Christ party" in this list, suggesting that the words "And I am of Christ," spoken in 1 Cor. 1:12, are the words of the apostle Paul himself, and not the slogan of any kind of a faction at Corinth. However, that is not something that can be said with certainty; there may well have been a Christ Party that competed against the other parties.

These three ministers were appointed by Christ, for the common benefit of the church: "Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas, are all yours. One is not to be elevated over another, but all are to be valued and used for your own spiritual benefit. They are all equally yours, to serve you for Christ's sake.” The ministers of the Church of Christ are appointed for the hearers, not the hearers for the ministers. Whatever advantages result from the piety, self-denials, and labours of Paul, Apollos, or any other preacher of the gospel, are yours--you have the benefit of them.

They were not rivals and they had no desire to form parties. They were united in their desire to promote the welfare of the whole church of God. The doctrine is, that ministers belong to the church, and should devote themselves to its welfare; and that the church enjoys, in common, the benefits of the learning, zeal, piety, eloquence, talents, and example of the ministers of God. To say I am of Paul or I am of Apollos is to have a view that is too narrow, too constricted. Both Paul and Apollos belong to you; the whole universe is yours in Christ. The absurdity of their dividing over allegiances to any of these men is that God gave them “all” to the Corinthians.

or the world,

Not only all the ministers of the world are yours, but the whole world is yours; although you have been called out of it, and have such a little a share of it. The world was made for the sake of the saints, and is kept on their account; and when they are called by grace, it will soon come to an end. It is their Lord's, both as Creator and Mediator, and so it is also theirs. The good things of the world are enjoyed by the saints in a peculiar way, as covenant mercies and blessings; and there is nothing that can keep us from them, because we can confidently say along with Paul—“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39; KJV).

God’s Christians escape the evil things in the world, such as the sins and lust; and the afflictions they meet with in the world are made to work for their good; and since they are heirs of the world, just as Abraham was, they will inherit it in a much better form than it is now: the present heavens will pass away, the earth and all therein will be burnt up, and new heavens and a new earth will come down from God. Only the righteous can live there. The world, in its present state, is like a motel that has been designed to accommodate the saints, in their current condition as pilgrims and strangers; but then it will be like a palace, fit for the spouse and bride of Christ.

World is, without a doubt, used, in its common meaning, to denote the things which God has made; the universe, and the things which pertain to this life. And the meaning of the apostle probably is, that all things pertaining to this world which God has made—all the events which are occurring due to His eternal will and foreknowledge are done for them, so that it would contribute to their improvement and their enjoyment. This general idea may be expressed in several ways:

1. The world was made by God, who is their common Father, and they have an investment in it since they are his children: He created the world, and He is present in all his works. Nothing contributes as much to the true enjoyment of the world than the knowledge that everything was made by the Christian's Father, and as his children they may all partake of the goodness He has for them in the world.

2. The structure of the universe is sustained and upheld for their sake. The universe is maintained by God; and one aim of God in keeping it is to protect, preserve, and redeem his church and people. To this end he defends it by day and night; he controls all things; he keeps it from flood and fire, and from annihilation. The sun, and moon, and stars, the times and seasons, are all prearranged for the purpose of guarding His church and bringing it to heaven. And we can be sure that He never slumbers or sleeps as he stands guard over us and the world.

3. The course of providential events is prearranged for their welfare: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28; KJV). This verse introduces another source of consolation and support, drawn from the fact that all things are under the direction of an infinitely wise Being, who has designed the salvation of the Christian, and who has prearranged all things so that they contribute to it. The revolutions of kingdoms, the various persecutions and trials, even the rage and fury of wicked men, are all overruled, to the advancement of the cause of truth, and the welfare of the church.

4. Christians have the promise of as much of this world as they need; and in this sense "the world" is theirs—“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:33; KJV); And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30; KJV); “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim 4:8; KJV). David knew as well as anyone that godliness is profitable for all men, and he said as much: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37.25; KJV).

Or life,

The life meant here is not the individual’s life, but the life of Christ; which he lived here on earth, in obedience to his Father's will, and which he now lives in heaven, where he ever lives to make intercession for his people; that fullness of life that is in him, and that eternal life which is through him, are all theirs. The lives of the ministers of the Gospel are for their benefit and advantage; and their own lives are theirs, although they are not to live it for themselves, but they are to desire to live by faith in Christ, and for the glory of God.

We are given life, in order to do God's work and to insure that we have the time and opportunity to prepare for eternal life. Our life, with all its trials and advantages, every hour of It, every tribulation in it, the whole course of it, is like a wonderful state of probation: it is a general blessing for us; and we have life, and that life is preserved in order to prepare us for an eternity of blessedness. Life is ours, because:

1. we enjoy life. It is real life, and not a vain show. We live for a real personal Savior, and not for vanity. Others live for profit and ambition—Christians live for the great purposes of life; and life to them has reality, as if they are living in a state of preparation prior to going to a higher world. Their life is not an endless circle of meaningless events—of false and hollow pretensions to friendship—of a vain pursuit of happiness, which is never found; but is passed in a manner that is rational, and sober, and that truly deserves to be called life.

2. The various events and occurrences of life tend to promote our welfare, and advance our salvation.

Or life, or death, the former denoting things present, the latter (see below), things to come.

Or death,

The death of Christ was for them, since He died in their place and for their sake, for their sins, and to satisfy divine justice for them. The death of good men, ministers, martyrs, and believers, is theirs. The deaths of God’s children serves to confirm their faith, animate their zeal, and encourage them to hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering. Their own death is a blessing to them; the sting is taken away by Christ; the curse is removed; it is not an evil meant to punish them; but for them it is a deliverance from all the sorrows and troubles of this life, and it is their safe passage into endless glory and happiness. To the saint "death is gain." It is the kind messenger that will fetch you to your Father’s house.

Death arrives at that solemn hour, which is so dreadful to the wicked; and so hated by those who live without God. Death is yours and it is your servant; he comes for you like a special messenger from God; he comes to untie a knot that now connects body and soul, which is unlawful for you to untie; he comes to take your souls to glory; and he cannot come before the time appointed to those who are waiting for the salvation of God. A saint wishes to live only to glorify God; and he who wishes to live longer than he can get and do good, is not worthy to live at all.

Death is usually regarded as a calamity and a curse; but it is a blessing for the Christian:

1. Because they will have peace and comfort in the hour of their death.

2. Because it has no terrors for them. It will take away nothing which they are not willing to give away.

3. Because it is the avenue which leads to their eternal rest; and it is theirs in the same sense in which we say that "this is our road" when we have been gone for a long time and suddenly recognize the road that leads home.

4. Because they will triumph over it. It is subdued by their Holy Captain, and the grave has already been the scene of a triumph by Him rising from its chills and darkness.

5. Because death is the means—the instrument of introducing them to their home in heaven. It is the beneficial event in their history, by which they are removed from a world of troubles, and translated to a world of glory. It is a source of inexpressible advantage for them, since it translates them to a world of light and eternal bliss; and it may truly be called theirs.

Or things present,

Every occurrence in providence in the present life, because God rules in providence as well as in grace. Events which are happening now: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present …shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39; KJV). All the calamities, trials, persecutions—all the prosperity, advantages, privileges of the present time, will tend to promote our welfare, and our salvation: whatever they are, "shall work together for good to them that love God."

Or things to come,

Future troubles, which may include pain and suffering; as well as future good things, either in this world, or in the world to come—the invisible glories of a future existence; are yours, to enrich and delight you forever at your journey’s end.’’ It is all for you, and even now it is all working together for your good. The best things to come to the Christian are the presence of Christ, and the joys of the New Jerusalem.

all are yours;

The Holy Spirit thinks it is so important for us to know these things (everything above) that he repeats what he said at the end of the previous verse; all is yours! Or perhaps, Paul thought he may have omitted something, therefore he says again, all are yours—“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28; KJV)—and belong to you, as they belong to Christ your Head; “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb 1:2; KJV). Note, If we belong to Christ, and are true to him, everything that is good belongs to us. Time and eternity, earth and heaven, life and death; it is all ours. We shall want for no good thing, Ps. 84:11 .

Here the Christian is viewed as the possessor of everything, because he is in Christ. This means that Christians are not to do certain things, such as worldly men do; for all things are theirs. A Christian is in fact a member of no sect or party, because he has entered into the possession of a fellowship and love which are as wide as the universe. All are yours. All will tend to promote your comfort and salvation. All are yours: This is Christian liberty. And you are Christ's: This is Christian responsibility.

Ministers of all ranks, ordinary and extraordinary, are yours. And the world itself is yours; it is not that saints are proprietors of the world, but it exists for their sake, and they have as much of it as Infinite Wisdom will permit them to have, and they have it all with the divine blessing. Therefore, we are not to compete for the little things; but instead, we must be as united in love, as we are in blessings. The believer in Christ “shall want no good thing” (Ps 84:11). WHAT A CLIMAX!

23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

And ye are Christ's;

This is the ground and foundation of all things being theirs, and it shows in what way they come by them. They are Christ's; he has an investment in them, and they in him; they are his, not only by creation, as all men are, but by the Father's special gift of them to him, as his spouse and bride, his children, his sheep, his portion, and his precious jewels. They are his through the purchase of his own blood, and by a voluntary surrender of themselves unto him, under the influence of his Spirit and grace; they are his by their profession of faith in him; they declare themselves to be the Lord's and call themselves by his name; and they are his by his possession of them, and by him dwelling in their hearts by faith; and all they have are his. Their worst things are his; their sins are credited to him, and laid on him by imputation, and have been born and done away with by him. Their grief and sorrow is his, their guilt is his, and their afflictions and sufferings are his. Their best things are his; their earthly mercies come from him, and through him; and all their spiritual blessings are found in him; and all the good things done by them are done in his strength and in his name, by the assistance of his Spirit, and through his grace.

Ye are Christ's—not Paul's, or Apollos’, or Cephas': “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor 11:3; KJV); “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ” (Matt 23:8-10; KJV); “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's” (Romans 14:8; KJV). All things were theirs, since they were the children of God. "All things are yours"—Paul, Apollos, all things—you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. All things are ours, if upon no other ground than our being Christ’s; but without him, we are without a fair claim to anything that is good. Note, Those that would be safe and happy for eternity must be Christ’s.

You are called by his name; you have embraced his doctrine; you depend on him for your salvation; he is your foundation stone; he has gathered you out of the world, and acknowledges you as his people and followers. Ye are of Christ; all the light and life which you enjoy, you have received through and from him, and he has bought you with his blood. Of course, the Christian's possession of all things in Jesus Christ stems from the fact of who Jesus Christ is; he is God incarnate in human flesh, the eternal Word, one with the Father, who is and was and will be before all time and is now and forever.

Christians should regard themselves as devoted to the Savior. They are his, and he has the highest conceivable claim on their time, their talents, their influence, and their wealth. To him, therefore, let us be devoted, and to him let us consecrate all that we have.

And Christ is God's.

Jesus Christ is God’s Son, his own, his only begotten and well beloved Son, therefore, he is a divine person; and as man he is God’s creature, made by him, and inferior to him; he is the head of him, like man is the head of the woman; and as Mediator, he is his righteous servant in whom he is glorified: so that, upon the whole, the saints should not glory in men, even though they are thought to be great and good, but by virtue of them being in Christ, they are made wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

And Christ is God’s. He is the Christ of God, anointed by God, and commissioned by him, to bear the office of a Mediator, and to act in that office for the purposes of his glory. Note, All things are the believer’s, so that Christ might be honored in his great undertaking, and so that God might have the glory. GOD IN CHRIST RECONCILING A SINFUL WORLD TO HIMSELF, AND SHEDDING ABROAD THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE ON A RECONCILED WORLD, IS THE SUM AND SUBSTANCE OF THE GOSPEL.

And Christ is of God. Christ, the Messiah, is the gift of God's eternal love and mercy to mankind; for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that they who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Christ in his human nature is as much the property of God as any other human being. And as mediator between God and man, he must be considered, in a certain way, inferior to God, but in his own essential, eternal nature, there is no inequality-he is God over all. Therefore, you do not belong to any man. Why then take Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or any other man for your head? All these are your servants; you are not their property, you are Christ's property: and just as he has taken his human nature into heaven, so will he take yours; because he that sanctifies, and they that are sanctified are one: you are his brethren; and just as his human nature is eternally safe at the throne of God, so will your bodies and souls be safe, if you attach yourself to him and are faithful unto death.

Christ is God’s. Christ is not subordinate to God, as the believer is to Christ; rather, He is the Anointed One of God. He is God in the flesh, “reconciling the world unto himself” (II Cor 5:19).

All things are ours, but we are not our own! We own all things, but we do not own ourselves! Therefore our duty is to be consecrated to the service of Christ. Christ is God's: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor 11:3; KJV). God is the ultimate end of everything, even of Christ, His co-equal Son: “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28; KJV); “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:6-11; KJV).

Christ belongs to God. As the church is subject only to Christ, so Christ is subject only to God. The Scriptures speak about a threefold subordination of Christ:

1. A subordination of the second person of the Trinity to the first in the way they subsist and function. This is perfectly consistent with their identity, and equality in power and glory.

2. The voluntary subordination of the Son in his humbling himself to be found in appearance as a man, and becoming obedient to death, and therefore subject to the limitations and infirmities of our nature.

3. The subordination of the incarnate Son of God, in the work of redemption and as the head of the church. He who is by nature equal with God becomes, as it were, subject to him.

The passages most directly parallel with this one are 11:3 (see above)and 15:28 (see above), but the same truth is taught in Philippians 2:6–11 (see above) and Hebrews 1:3: “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” and in many other passages

Oh, how wonderful it is that we do not have to be confined to one narrow group or one particular denomination. Instead of feeling that we belong to so-and-so and can be taught by only one particular teacher or preacher, we can know that all the men of God belong to us. How wonderful! The reason I get along with the Pentecostal brethren, Methodists, Presbyterians etc. is because I know they belong to God. Oh, my friends, those folk belong to me too. And I belong to them. How glorious it is to meet around the person of Christ with other believers who are on the foundation which is Jesus Christ!